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  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default ISG: Witless Wisdom

    1 December NY Post commentary - Witless Wisdom by John Podhoretz.

    Yes, it's been quite a week for the 10 members of the Iraq Study Group, the committee formed last spring to offer recommendations on a path forward in Iraq.

    They had a wonderfully invigorating leak session the other day with The New York Times, which was the first recipient of the group's key top-level save-America recommendation. Co-chairmen James "Is There An Arab Dictator Nearby Whose Butt I Can Kiss" Baker and Lee "Yes, I'm Still Alive" Hamilton didn't even bother to pretend to brief the president or key lawmakers first.

    The president could wait his turn. After all, this is the Iraq Study Group we're talking about here, buddy...

    Baker, Hamilton and their crew of old Washington hands (and I mean old, like Metheuselah-level old) are recommending a "gradual pullback" of American troops but without a timetable. That basically translates into a nice, long, slow defeat - the "graceful exit" of which the president spoke so harshly.

  2. #2
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    Default Iraq Study Group Report

    Iraq Study Group Report
    Contents

    Letter from the Co-Chairs

    Executive Summary

    I. Assessment

    A. Assessment of the Current Situation in Iraq
    1. Security
    2. Politics
    3. Economics
    4. International Support
    5. Conclusions

    B. Consequences of Continued Decline in Iraq

    C. Some Alternative Courses in Iraq
    1. Precipitate Withdrawal
    2. Staying the Course
    3. More Troops for Iraq
    4. Devolution to Three Regions

    D. Achieving Our Goals

    II. The Way Forward—A New Approach

    A. The External Approach: Building an International Consensus
    1. The New Diplomatic Offensive
    2. The Iraq International Support Group
    3. Dealing with Iran and Syria
    4. The Wider Regional Context

    B. The Internal Approach: Helping Iraqis Help Themselves
    1. Performance on Milestones
    2. National Reconciliation
    3. Security and Military Forces
    4. Police and Criminal Justice
    5. The Oil Sector
    6. U.S. Economic and Reconstruction Assistance
    7. Budget Preparation, Presentation, and Review
    8. U.S. Personnel
    9. Intelligence

    Appendices
    Overview Map of the Region
    Overview Map of Iraq
    Administrative Divisions
    Distribution of Religious Groups
    Letter from the Sponsoring Organizations
    Iraq Study Group Plenary Sessions
    Iraq Study Group Consultations
    Expert Working Groups and Military
    Senior Advisor Panel
    The Iraq Study Group
    Iraq Study Group Support
    ...now to slog through this much-hyped document, and see if it's worth the time and effort expended, let alone the paper (and digits) its printed on...

  3. #3
    Council Member SSG Rock's Avatar
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    Default Disappointing.

    To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. Such an air of defeatism has seeped into the American psyche that it's just, I don't know. It's just disappointing. Somehow I had held out some hope that a group of experienced, elder statesmen could tell us something we didn't already know.

    No, there is no "magic" formula that will turn Iraq around overnight. To expect that is completely unrealistic and a false premise. It isn't rocket science. What we need in Iraq, is a demonstration of American resolve to the world. I don't know why we can't seem to manage that, politics I suspect. But I think that a display of American resolve would turn the momentum around to our side. The insurgents are winning the all important propaganda war, America knows that the insurgents fight for the television cameras, and yet somehow, America perceives that we are losing this fight when we are at least maintaining a stalemate and if we would get serious about it, we could put this insurgency down.
    Don't taze me bro!

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    Default

    You know, I don't think it's so much a case of Americans losing their resolve to fight. There were a lot of people who enlisted in the military right after 9/11. That's not a sign of a cowardly people. You don't hear as much criticism about our mission in Afghanistan as you do about Iraq. And there isn't a lot of call for us to leave the Afghani mission, in fact I hear more people in favor of Afghanistan than opposing it. It seems to me that the problems have less to do with a lack of stomach for fighting a war on the peoples' part and more to do with a lack of competence in fighting the war on our elected leadership's part. Nobody likes backing a losing team...and it seems that most of the reasons for our difficulties start and stop with the upper management. When I hear Bush, or Rumsfeld, or Cheney sitting back and talking about us losing our will to fight it bothers me because that feels more like they're externalizing blame than anything else. Strategy and tactics have more to do with winning or losing a war than public unhappiness does.

  5. #5
    Council Member SSG Rock's Avatar
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    Default Maybe

    You know what? At this point, who knows? You could be exactly right. Although in some of the liberal discussion boards, I do see as much bashing of the Afghanistan mission as I do Iraq, but the public at large, your right.

    I wonder if it matters anymore?
    Don't taze me bro!

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default ISG Report News, Editorials, Commentary and Blogs

    I've already started updating tomorrow's SWJ Daily News page. Will be adding additional ISG related material tonight and in the morning...

  7. #7
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default SWJ ISG Page

    For those that want a one-stop page on the Iraq Study Group's Report.

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    Default Still no good options

    It was foolish of me to hope for more from the study group, but I did. I don't disagree with regional engagement, you have to do it. If Iran is really the problem (I have seen conflicted reports on this), then I think we need to negotiate with them openly. We need to put them in a position where they support the international communities efforts (open statements saying they will), or they openly defy and they state they will continue to destabilize Iraq. If they state publically they desire to help stabilize Iraq, but we have evidence proving otherwise we need to show it. If they defiantly admit they want to continue destabilizing it, then we declare war on them. We need to take the initiative and put them in checkmate, and have the high moral ground. I think we have more maneuver room than we give ourselves credit for. Saudi and several other countries in the region are concerned about Iran, as are several European countries, not to mention Israel. Just because we made serious mistakes with Iraq doesn't mean we should prohibit ourselves from the necessary actions to win this war. Pull out or fight, but I don't think we'll ever solve the Iraqi problem by staying within the boundaries of Iraq. It is regional problem that hopefully we can solve diplomatically, if not then point our guns across the border. I don't recommend attempting another regime change, but executing very punishing military raids that cause significant pain to the regime and demonstrate our will. If that sets the conditions for Iranians to implement their own regime change so much the better.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-08-2006 at 02:14 AM.

  9. #9
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Half full Half empty

    I am ambivalent toward the ISG report in that the report itself is what it is: a collection of individual talking points some of which have key implications on Iraq, some of which are more Washington DC-centric. In this regard, I see the glass as half empty. I wish they (the ISG) had filled it up.

    On the other hand, I see the glass as half full because at least the ISG has brought key issues to light, issues that have not seen the light of day in several years. Moreover, the process of the ISG is in my view what is important, not its substance (or lack there of).

    On another thread here the other day council member Around Midnight framed a discussion around the issue of National Will as An Instrument of National Power . I see the ISG as a critical step in doing that; the choice is really whether to take the step forward or take a step backward.

    Best

    Tom

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default

    I agree, Tom. The ISG really reads as more of a talking paper, but it does bring out some issues that should be discussed. And by discussed I mean in a real, meaningful way that won't lend itself to quaint sound bites but rather a deeper discussion of what we hope to accomplish and a realistic appraisal of what lies in our way. The sort of talk where everything is on the table, including a more balanced view of the Middle East. I honestly don't have much hope that this will happen, but it would be nice.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I am ambivalent toward the ISG report in that the report itself is what it is: a collection of individual talking points some of which have key implications on Iraq, some of which are more Washington DC-centric. In this regard, I see the glass as half empty. I wish they (the ISG) had filled it up.

    On the other hand, I see the glass as half full because at least the ISG has brought key issues to light, issues that have not seen the light of day in several years. Moreover, the process of the ISG is in my view what is important, not its substance (or lack there of).

    On another thread here the other day council member Around Midnight framed a discussion around the issue of National Will as An Instrument of National Power . I see the ISG as a critical step in doing that; the choice is really whether to take the step forward or take a step backward.

    Best

    Tom
    I agree with your thoughts sir. I am interested to hear what you think of the ISG recommendation to push the Israelis to return the Golan Heights to Syria.

    In addition, while the report makes repeated references to the issue of Kirkuk, why do you think that it would not specifically "spell-out" what the issue(s) is/are? Is there a fear of letting the US public know that the Kurds, who are portrayed as some of the "good-guys," will potentially break the country apart over this issue?

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